Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Of, characterized by, or producing a hissing sound like that of (s) or (sh): the sibilant consonants; a sibilant bird call.
  • n. A sibilant speech sound, such as English (s), (sh), (z), or (zh).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Characterized by a hissing sound such as the "s" or "sh" in sash or surge.
  • n. A hissing sound such as the 's' or 'sh' in 'sash' or 'surge'.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Making a hissing sound; uttered with a hissing sound; hissing.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Hissing; making or having a hissing sound: as, s and z are sibilant letters.
  • n. An alphabetic sound that is uttered with hissing, as s and z, and sh and zh (in azure, etc.), also ch (tsh) and j (dzh).

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. of speech sounds produced by forcing air through a constricted passage (as `f', `s', `z', or `th' in both `thin' and `then')
  • n. a consonant characterized by a hissing sound (like s or sh)

Etymologies

Latin sībilāns, sībilant-, present participle of sībilāre, to hiss.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin sībilāns, present active participle of sībilō ("I hiss"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • He spoke in sibilant English mocking my clumsy Arabic.

    I Was Sold on the Slave Block « Official Harry Harrison News Blog

  • P; and air from the mouth be forced between them; the W sibilant is produced, as pronounced by the Germans, and by some of the inferiour people of London, and ought to have an appropriated character as thus [*].

    Note XV

  • If the point of the tongue be placed between the teeth, and air from the mouth be forced between them, the Th sibilant is produced, as in thigh, and should have a proper character, as [*].

    Note XV

  • Although an striking feature of Castilian Spanish and other variants of Spanish, respectively....have perserved the "sibilant" -s

    languagehat.com: ITALIAN DIALECTS.

  • S: The nineteenth letter of the alphabet, which is called a sibilant, because it makes a hissing sound like a goose.

    The Silly Syclopedia

  • A slight aspirate preceding and modifying the sibilant, which is, however, the stronger of the two consonants; _e.g. hsing_ = _hissing_ without the first _i_,

    Myths and Legends of China

  • They are low and insinuating, a kind of sibilant utterance:

    Tentation de saint Antoine. English

  • The Hebrew text suggests that the difference consisted in the different articulation of the "sibilant": although the conquered heard sh, they could produce only s.

    OUPblog

  • There will be new abuse, lithe, literary violence, men feeling compelled to punch her soul, to bruise it with sibilant syllables, "so sentimental."

    Heron Dream

  • With that, Nick Tosches, in his world weary, permanently pissed-off, slightly sibilant urban drawl, riffed through about 6 or 7 short poems, tearing each page in half and throwing them to the floor as he finished reading.

    Binky Philips: Nick Tosches Saves The Last Dance For Satan

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